Panama builds 'China team' to improve bilateral ties

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-11-24 14:07

PANAMA CITY - Panama has created a "China team" within its government to improve relations with China after President Juan Carlos Varela visited Beijing in the past week.

The "China team" comprises those from the ministries of economy and finance, trade and industry and the maritime authorities, the country's Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo was quoted by Daily La Prensa as saying on Thursday.

"We have created commissions and teams in all topics to advance as quickly as possible," Saint Malo said.

Malo said the highlights of Varela's China trip included the opening of a direct Air China flight from China to Panama, via Houston, and a feasibility study to build a railway from Panama to Costa Rica which is part of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

The Belt and Road Initiative aims to create a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and beyond along and beyond ancient trade routes.

Malo added that China had granted Panama favors in maritime affairs, and "ships with a Panamanian flag will have a preferential berth in Chinese ports."

According to Malo, Panama had signed agreements with entities such as Bank of China and the Export-Import Bank of China, which plan to open up offices in Panama and build finance infrastructure projects in the country.

The minister said that Panama is actively contemplating investing a multimillion U.S. dollars to build a railway between Panama and Costa Rica, in a bid to transform the capital into a logistical, air, port and financial hub.

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